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parents panel

Parents Panel: What's one thing you've tried to get your kids to open up and talk?

From drives in the car to having ‘the chats’ after work.

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AS PART OF’s weekly Family Magazine, we wanted to create a space for parents to share their views. A place where mums and dads could share their experiences, lessons learned, and even mistakes along the way. 

Whether your child is three or thirteen, getting them to talk about their feelings or what’s going on in their head can be a tricky task. So we asked our panel how they do it.

What’s one thing you’ve tried to get your kids to open up and talk?

Here’s what they had to say…

Parents Panel All 7 - Copy Top L-R: Olly Keegan, Alan Dooley, Denise, Ken Hyland. Middle L-R: Ríona Flood, Ross Boxshall, Marta Lisiecka, Denise Cumiskey. Bottom L-R: Kait Quinn, Susannah O’Brien, Derek McInerney, Suzie Kelly

She’ll always open up in the car: My children tend to come to me for hugs and cuddles when they’re feeling down, but usually do their talking/opening up to my wife. My wife always finds the car a great place to find out the real matters. Our 9 year old always talks quite deeply about her feelings when she’s out for a drive with my wife. On one occasion we knew our daughter had worries and my wife said not to worry she’ll open up on the drive – and she did!

- Ross Boxshall

I go walking with my teenage daughter: My sixteen year old has had a very hard year at school this year. My way of getting her to talk and open up about it is that we go out walking together. She always relaxes then and opens up about things. I always ask the older two (16 and 21) how their day was and I know by their reply if something is up or not.

- Denise Cumiskey

He joins us “for chats” after we finish work: Recently, we’ve tried asking our four-year-old son questions in a different way, to see if we can get more than the “I don’t know” or “nothing” answer when you ask why he did in creche that day. Things like “What did you do today that was fun/made you feel good”; and “Tell me something nice that someone did for you today”, “Tell me something nice that you did today”. Also, we ask him to tell us things that maybe made him feel not so happy.  Just to try and help him process the day. He knows that my wife and I like to sit down “for chats” after work, so he often joins in – so long as he can have a mug of milk while we are having a coffee!

- Olly Keegan

shutterstock_440053534 Shutterstock / Dmytro Zinkevych Shutterstock / Dmytro Zinkevych / Dmytro Zinkevych

It’s hard to understand what he’s saying sometimes: Tymek is only starting proper chatting. He’s two years old and bilingual so it’s challenging to always understand what he’s trying to say. We just talk, talk, talk, all the time. We explain everything, point to things, name them, ask him questions, try to name emotions he might feel…

- Marta Lisiecka

I try to have long conversations with each of them: The car is a really good place for chats I find, Rhiannon especially will waffle the ears off me in the car. I always made a point of having long conversations with them since they were little, and I’m doing this with their younger brothers at the moment, although they are still very young. Brendan is only 3 but can hold a conversation all day if you let him!

- Susannah O’Brien

Bedtime is when it all comes out: There are no difficulties in getting my kids (2 and 4) to talk! Bedtime is generally when they talk most… any excuse to delay sleep time.

- Denise

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It’s like getting blood from a stone: Having two older kids hitting their teens, you can imagine how tough it is to get them to engage in any meaningful conversation. Sometimes the best way to get information is to turn the issue into bit of a joke. So if I ask the kids how they got on in school and they say “I don’t know”, I say something along the lines of “Well then, I am going to go speak to your teacher. If you can’t remember what you did in school they must be doing a terrible job of teaching you”. That usually works.

- Ken Hyland

Want to win a Lily O’Brien’s hamper full of delicious chocolate for your little one’s teacher (or, shhhh, for yourself)? Enter here!

More: 6 survival tactics I’ve employed for staying sane around my in-laws

More: Am I being a bad parent… by keeping my kids away from their unvaccinated cousin?

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